Anybody that really knows me – and probably most casual observers too – know how much that I enjoy the chances that I get to spend time with my daughter.
Really, though, what parent doesn’t?
Yes, I know. Every parent-child relationship out there isn’t what I’ve been blessed with. And I’m very thankful for what I have. Every single day.
In a couple of days, I get the opportunity to help my daughter drive home after she finishes today her first semester in college – and away from home.
I was able to make it there twice to see her during the semester and, of course, she came home for Thanksgiving.
By our summer vacation standards, this will be a short drive. Just 17-18 hours.
I also know that some of you reading this would rather have a root canal than to be in a car for that length of time.
We’ve had some epic – not to use a recently overused word by an area marathon race director – drives over the years. Here are some that readily come to mind:
1. Alaska (Summer 2012; Anchorage to Fairbanks; Denali Highway – Paxson to Cantwell; Seward Highway)
2. Canada (Summer 2013; Pittsburgh to Erie to Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal to central Pennylsvania)
3. Hawaii (Summer 2011; All over the island of Kona.)
4. St. Louis to Las Vegas (Summer 2002: Five state capitals in five days. Waverly, MO and Waverly, NE to boot.)
5. Utah, Montana and Idaho (Summer 2010: Glacier National Park.)
6. New York, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts (Summer 2004)
7. California – San Francisco and Los Angeles (Summer 2008)
8. Monticello, Mount Vernon, Washington Monuments and Pennslyvania (Spring Break 2004)
I’m sure I’ve missed a few notable ones, but these are some of the ones that standout the most.
With the exception of Hawaii, I’m pretty positive that these were all a minimum of 1,000 miles in the car within a week’s time (or 9 days – a bookend of weekends – at the most).
She’s already promised that she would set a new standard in our travels: that she would probably talk my ear off. And, honestly, I’m looking forward to every minute, every word.
We’ve talked “at least” once a week since she’s been away at school, typically every Sunday evening.
The conversations are usually anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and they replace the usual weekly dinners that we would have out, especially the year that I was working week-in and week-out in California.
Therefore, I know that the conversation isn’t one that will include things that need to be solved – or needs input – immediately.
Rather I expect it to be one that has the chance to be transformative for one or both of us.
I think I learn a lot about myself as a parent and especially as my role in that assignment changes more to being a coach than the enforcer to boundaries which are set.
I have different inputs and influences to evaluate now and realize too that she has grown (incredibly, I might add) as a young woman – especially being on her own for much of the last four months.
There were some things that I could have done better as a father, but some of those inputs to do those I didn’t specifically have in my toolbox – and I wasn’t encouraged or bold enough to develop them.
However, I tried to make up for that in the area of time – and unconditional love.
And I did the best job that I could – and doing so genuinely, without smothering or being a helicopter parent.
What is the one thing, starting today, that you can set out to do to create a lasting memory of with your child?
Maybe even something that really isn’t tangible at all.
If you’re reading this, please keep us in your prayers on Friday and Saturday as we drive back to Texas so Waverly can enjoy her Christmas and Holiday break and completely recharge for the Spring semester at Liberty University in January.